Meeting People Where They Are

This week, Kyle led us through Luke 5:27-32 -- the story of Matthew's call to discipleship. In that story, Jesus dines with tax collectors and "sinners," and He reminds everyone there that it is the sick who need doctors, and sinners who need saving. He also teaches us an important lesson about how to fulfill our call to share the good news by meeting people where they are instead of isolating and alienating ourselves from them.  Here are a few action steps:

See ourselves rightly

In the story of Matthew's calling, the Pharisees confront Jesus about eating with "sinners," believing themselves to be above such a bad crowd of people. By contrast, we need to remember that Christ loved us "while we were still sinners," and that it is only Jesus's righteousness that makes us or anyone righteous. We all need saving; we all need Jesus.

Step into people's lives

The Pharisees separated themselves from sinners in order to remain pure. As a result, they could not bring help to those most in need of it. Many of us are no different. Although our motivations may not be as extreme as the Pharisees, many Christians have almost no Christian friends. Our neighborhoods and lifestyles are increasingly isolated, and we tend to stick with people who have similar beliefs as we have. But Jesus calls us to be salt and light -- and light is only visible in darkness. That means we'll have to get to know some people who are living in darkness and who need Christ's light in their lives. 

Start simply

And just how do we shine light in the darkness? For some, that may mean a call to places where the gospel has never been heard or to a ministry among society's lowest criminals. For most, however, shining Christ's light means getting to know our neighbors and coworkers. The first step to meeting people where they are is meeting themLearn people's names. Make them cookies. Turn names on a mailbox into acquaintances, turn acquaintances into friends, then share your life with them. Practice hospitality and be helpful in practical ways. Create a safe place for questions and conversation. Then you'll be in a good position to share the good news of Jesus for their lives.

Questions to Consider:

  • What was I like before Jesus saved me? In what ways have I seen Him change me? Am I living like one who has been rescued by grace? Or do I look down on others who are sinful because I believe myself to be better than they are?
  • Am I stepping into people's lives? Do I have any non-Christian friends? How can I keep from being isolated from non-believers?
  • What can I do today to reach out to my neighbors and coworkers? In what practical ways can I help them? How can I open my life to them?

This coming Sunday will be our final week in the "Called to Mission" series. Catch up on the whole series here, or read more sermon notes here.